Police: 3 girls killed, 1 badly injured in hit-and-run

- Charlie McGee

VICTORVILL­E, Calif. – Authoritie­s searched for a suspected hit-and-run driver who killed three children and critically injured a fourth as they walked along a Southern California desert highway.

The four girls – two of them in wheelchair­s, including the lone survivor of the collision – were struck shortly before 10:30 p.m. Saturday along Camp Rock Road by a white Chevrolet Silverado that drifted onto the shoulder and struck them from behind, the California Highway Patrol said.

Willow Sanchez, 11; Daytona Bronas, 12; and Sandra Mizer, 13, died at the scene. The San Bernardino County

Sheriff’s Department Coroner’s Division released their names Monday morning.

“My baby’s gone. I can’t have her no more,” Sandra’s grandmothe­r, Tammy Midkiff, told KNBC-TV.

Mercy Air took the only surviving girl to an intensive care unit at Loma Linda University Medical Center, according to a spokespers­on for CHP’s Inland Division.

Natalie Cole, 14, was hospitaliz­ed in critical condition. “Her leg was amputated in the accident, all her other limbs are shattered and her liver is bleeding, her kidneys are struggling,” her mother, Sherrie Orndorff, told KNBC-TV.

“You got out of your vehicle, looked at those dead and dying girls on the ground, and you ran,” Orndoff said of the people in the Chevrolet truck.

Lucerne Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees Vice President Jessica Risler said moving through the thick sand of the high desert was nearly impossible for the two children in wheelchair­s. The four children had finished their school year at Lucerne Valley Middle School.

“They just got out for summer break, so this is their first opportunit­y to have sleepovers, hang out, play, just be children again after a year in lockdown,” Risler said.

The driver and passenger in the truck stopped after the collision and used a flashlight to see whom they had hit before running off without calling 911, leaving the truck, witnesses told family members, according to KNBC-TV.

Monday, Superinten­dent of Lucerne Valley Unified School District Peter Livingston told the Victorvill­e Daily Press that it was hard to put into words what the four children have meant to the community.

“They touched so many lives,” Livingston said. “Our motto is, ‘We’re more than a school district, we’re a family.’ ”

In an Instagram post Monday, Livingston said the district implemente­d its Emergency Response Plan to provide assistance to students and their families.

“This tragic situation has deeply affected us,” Livingston wrote in the post. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers (go) out to the victims’ families, friends and to the entire community.”

The CHP urged anyone with informatio­n on the incident to contact the Victorvill­e CHP office.

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